Saturday, September 29, 2012

"The closest thing to heaven on earth ..."

Whatever happened to Sundays?  I know I was extremely blessed to grow up in a small farming community in Iowa.  I didn't realize how blessed I was at the time.  Everyone I knew went to church on Sunday morning.  I'm sure there were those who didn't go; and I'm equally sure that not everyone went for the right reasons.  But there were no stores open on Sundays ... a restaurant or two in some places, but Sundays were for church and family for the most part.  Often Sunday nights were spent visiting friends or relatives or fellow church members.

Now, I understand that things are different in the world today.  There are just a lot more things to do.  But it's a choice, isn't it?  We don't HAVE to DO all those other things.  Are we more rested?  Are we happier?  Are we closer to God and to one another, in the church, in our families, in our neighborhoods?  Having all of these options, all of these things to do, has made us more self-centered, more focused on worldly, earthly things, more tired - exhausted, really.  And that doesn't count the money we spend doing all these things.

What have we lost?  What have we left behind?  God, the church, community ... along with joy, peace rest and calm.  You hear people asking the question, "Are we better off today than we were four years ago?"  I have another question for you:  "Are we better off today than we were FORTY years ago?"  Perhaps every generation has asked that question, but no generation has seen the rapid changes we have seen in the past fifteen to twenty years ... even the past five to ten years.  My mother used to say that the past was "the good old days."  I don't say that.  But I do believe that we are getting further and further and further from God's design and that the world is headed for judgment because of it.  That's not my idea - that's what GOD says.

The prophet, Daniel, was told to "seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end.  Many will go here and there to increase knowledge" (Daniel 12:4).  Knowledge is multiplying today like at no time in the history of mankind, but knowledge without wisdom brings destruction.  "Their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools."  Fools think they know better than God.  God created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh.  Jesus said man wasn't made for the sabbath, but the sabbath for man.  God gave the sabbath day to mankind to point to the rest we all need - rest from our labors and rest from sin.  God gave the sabbath day to point us to heaven!!

The closest thing we have to heaven on earth is the gathering of God's people together in worship!  That's what makes Sundays so special, and so necessary.  Not only is God glorified as we gather together, but the body is built up and encouraged.  I hear people say that they can do OK without gathering together on Sundays - that you can be a Christian without going to church.  My question is, "SHOULD you be a Christian and not make gathering with your brothers and sisters in Christ a priority?"  It's not, after all, what you and I think is best or what our "flesh" wants to do, it's what GOD says is best and what our spirits need and deep inside want.  We NEED each other, we need worship, we need ... REST.

A dear godly woman went to be with the Lord this week.  She was not alone.  Other believers entered the gates of glory this week, to find rest.  Others died, thinking they were entering rest, but found out otherwise.  For those who know Jesus, the words of the Psalmist must ring true:  "I rejoiced with those who said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the LORD'" (Psalm 122:1).  I hope I'll see you in church tomorrow - or that someone will see you in church tomorrow.  And I pray that you will find rest as you join with the saints in worship, knowing that this is the closest thing to heaven on earth."

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